Several community organizations are hoping to curb binge drinking in Isla Vista over the course of three years with the continuing help of Santa Barbara County and UC Berkeley.
Roughly a month ago, the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors commissioned the UC Berkeley Institute for the Study of Social Change to evaluate the progress of a Santa Barbara program called Safer Isla Vista, which works to curb local binge drinking. Al Rodriguez, assistant director of the county Alcohol and Drug Program, said the county is paying the institute $114,900 this year for its work in developing and maintain alcohol control and education programs.
“The Institute for Social Change at Berkeley is a renowned agency that does studies and research evaluating community problems with alcohol and evaluates approaches to combat alcohol binging,” Rodriguez said.
Safer Isla Vista was created in September 2004, when the county received a state grant for $750,000 – to be distributed over three years – to counter alcohol abuse. Rodriguez said the program encourages students and community members to change their binge-drinking habits.
The program – a collaboration of five other organizations in addition to UC Berkeley – includes the Channel Islands YMCA, the I.V. Teen Center, the Isla Vista Foot Patrol (IVFP), Santa Barbara City College, HOZHO Associates – an alcohol control program – and UCSB Student Health. Each organization, Rodriguez said, receives a portion of the grant to fund individual Safer Isla Vista programs.
“No one organization can do this on their own, but if groups of different strengths come together and collaborate, they can make it happen,” Rodriguez said.
Rodriguez said the YMCA and I.V. Teen Center received $18,000 from the grant, which they will use to create a neighborhood-watch system. He said the program will encourage residents to help regulate the illegal consumption of alcohol in I.V. public parks by ensuring drinkers have permits.
IVFP Lt. Sol Linver said the IVFP will use the $22,000 it received to enhance their property owner notification program, which allows officers to contact landlords via e-mail about violations by their tenants. Linver said violations include anything that may harm the property or be prohibited in leases, such as hosting keg parties.
“Notifications can be sent based on loud parties, graffiti, vandalism, keg parties or unused furniture piled up in front of properties that could potentially be burned,” Linver said. “What is especially important about the keg violation is that many property owners have no-keg clauses in their leases, therefore many owners especially want to be notified if this is violated.”
Rodriguez said SBCC received $38,000 to create drinking-alternative activities in I.V. and the community. He said the community college will post times and locations of the events on a website that is still being designed.
HOZHO Associates received $65,000 from the grant to train college students over 21 years old how to host “safe parties” that do not violate law ordinances. Rodriguez said HOZHO will also provide counseling for students who have binge-drinking problems.
Student Health, which Rodriguez said received $63,000 in funding, will provide checkups and treatment services to binge drinkers who have been injured as a result of their alcohol usage. He said UCSB has not directly received funding from the grant because it has its own ways of supporting binge drinking-prevention programs.
Rodriguez said the programs – and the findings of in their evaluations – will help make I.V. a safer and more pleasant community in which to reside.
“We want there to be less serious injury, less falling off cliffs, less damage to residential units, all of which can be achieved with a decrease in binge drinking which this project aims for,” Rodriguez said.